The Toddler Invasion Continues

Obama Administration

Jon Stewart was particularly brilliant last night –

You must not miss this story about an Arizona Republican who was nearly weeping about the poor immmigrant being bused to a shelter — this is not compassion, he said — when he was informed that the bus was actually carrying local kids going to a YMCA camp. D’oh! But, y’know, I wish he’d been pressed to explain what would be compassionate, considering the children are here. Making them re-cross the Rio Grande under gunfire? The wingnuts weep crocodile tears for these children but coming up with no response but “deport them.”

And I must say I’m disappointed with Gov.Martin O’Malley, who doesn’t want children sent to a facility in Maryland, but I appreciate his reasons:

O’Malley told Muñoz not to send any of the children to the facility in Westminster, Md., that the White House was looking at. It’s a conservative part of the state, he warned. The children were at risk of getting harassed, or worse, he said.

Gov. O’Malley’s aides say he’s looking for another facility that would be more suitable.

Republicans are nearly gleeful that they’ve finally found “Obama’s Katrina.” I’m not sure most Americans fully understand what’s going on, but I don’t think most Americas are yet so depraved they would throw refugee children into a meatgrinder to score political points. In time this could backfire on the GOP.


Why Geezers Probably Should Not Draw Conclusions From Polls About What the Young Folks Think

Republican Party

Thomas B. Edsall, who is even older than I am and definitely a geezer, writes that today’s young people might not grow up to be Democrats, after all. That’s because a new Pew Research poll says the young folks are more interested in personal and sexual autonomy than in economic inequality.

Geezer Dude: This is because they are young folks. You could have said the same thing about the Boomers when we were young folks, including the left-wing antiwar ones. Economic issues were not on our radar at all, as I remember. This was partly because the economy had been, on the whole, pretty sweet through most of our lifetimes, and we naively assumed nothing could screw that up. The 1960s- and early 1970s-era New Left was even opposed to labor unions, mostly because unions were run by old white guys who fought integration and badmouthed affirmative action, and partly because we didn’t appreciate what could happen without unions.

Teens and young adults are always primarily concerned about personal and sexual autonomy, because that’s the standard life phase associated with being a teen or young adult. It’s normal. If you’re still struggling with those things when you’re 50, though, that’s a problem.

Teens and young adults also may not yet fully appreciate how screwed up The System is and how everything is skewed to favor the socially and economically privileged. People who are privileged their entire lives often never learn that lesson, of course. They build on familial wealth and connections and consider themselves to be “self-made men” (or women).

Much of the Boomer generation was reasonably well insulated from real hardship in part because of the accumulation of wealth from the end of World War II to 1972, when it all peaked and started to slide backward. And even those of us who missed the economic security boat often were well into middle age before we realized our assumptions were wrong, that we were never going to catch up to where we expected to be, and that economic injustice is terribly and ruthlessly unjust, indeed. If anything, seems to me, the young folks are learning that lesson a whole lot sooner than we did.

In short, I seriously doubt a majority of today’s 20-somethings who aren’t already libertarian randbots will ever embrace some future warmed-over version of Reaganomics. While there is no way to predict where today’s 20-somethings will be when they are 50-somethings, I doubt it will be anywhere today’s Republicans want them to go.

Related: Matt Yglesias asks, How long can the GOP last as the cranky oldster party?

There’s something very oldsterish about contemporary conservative politics. The constant bickering about Ronald Reagan is very odd to anyone too young to have any particular recollection of the Reagan years. Calling a group of people “Beyoncé Voters” as an insult is weird. Some of this oldsterism is just tics, but some of it has policy implications. The sort of budgetary priorities that call for huge cuts in all domestic spending, except no cuts at all for anyone born before 1959 is kind of weird. The huge freakout over New York City starting a bicycle program last summer was bizarre. It’s easy to imagine a political party that’s broadly favorable to low taxes and light regulation without sharing this particular set of tics. And then there was the time George Will wrote a column-length rant against blue jeans.

They do all want to pretend the 1960s either never happened or that they can still be avenged against it (remember the brilliant campaign to get college students to burn their Obamacare cards?). Recently Re. Renee Ellmers (NC-R) actually said,

Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level. Many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they’ve got some pie chart or graph behind them and they’re talking about trillions of dollars and how, you know, the debt is awful and, you know, we all agree with that … we need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman’s level and what everything that she is balancing in her life — that’s the way to go.

The Congresswoman was born in 1964, Wikipedia says. This is the same year Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique.


Mean, Stingy Nation

Obama Administration

Maybe I’m not remembering the past correctly, but it seems to me that if the refugee children crisis had happened decades ago, Americans would have just helped them. State and local governments would have cooperated in some kind of humanitarian effort; church and other groups would be sending toys and blankets and offering to foster the younger ones, at least while their status was sorted out.

Now it’s like we’re a nation of grumpy old men yelling at everyone to get off our lawn. I’ve even heard politicians complain we have to turn them away because they might be carrying diseases.

What the children are fleeing is anarchy. they are fleeing failed states in which there is no functional criminal justice system and criminal activity, including murder, is carried out with impunity. People arm themselves and join gangs just to survive. In short, it’s the sort of place the “open carriers” and Bundy Ranch militia crowd are trying to turn the U.S. into.

The President has asked for $3.7 million billion to deal with the crisis and is also asking state governors to get behind hosting the children. I take it the request is running into a wall of NIMBY. Under current law and with current resources, it could take years to determine the status of and make decisions about many of these children. A couple of Texas politicians propose to amend the law to make it easier to ship the children back to the kill zones.

Republican politicians are complaining to Fox News that children are being shipped into states that are not on the border –

Fox News has learned that 748 unaccompanied minors have been transferred from areas near the border to the Chicago area. Of the original group of 748 kids, 319 have been placed with family members or sponsors while they await an immigration hearing. The other 429 have been placed in facilities run by the Heartland Alliance, a nonprofit organization that receives grants from the Department of Health and Human Services

Oh, the, um, humanity? We’re supposed to keep tens of thousands of children locked up in holding cells in Texas?

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., told Fox News Friday that he did not know the exact locations of the facilities where the children were being kept, and stated his belief that the White House did not want the children’s living conditions to be made public.

More likely the White House doesn’t want a bunch of Fox News-watching goons to try to seize the children and dump them back over the Rio Grande.

Speaking of which, Fox News also is reporting that bodies of dead children have been found in the Rio Grande; they apparently died trying to cross. The geniuses who write right-wing blogs are blaming President Obama because of “his” immigration policy (a law passed in 2003 and amended in 2008).

For President Bush, Katrina became a toxic political subject due to dead bodies floating in the waters to underscore the human crisis. But at least he responded.

That’s a joke, right? Dubya got his picture taken with firefighters. End of response. See also New Orleans: What a Difference a Year Didn’t Make and Stormy Weather.

For President Obama the question is, will the floating bodies of young “Dreamers” finally stop the President from playing politics and start playing leader of the free world?

What’s driving those children to the U.S. is going on in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, not Washington. And if anybody is “playing politics,” it’s Republicans in Congress and elsewhere who seem to want to make the refugee crisis as messy as possible to make the President look bad.

Unfortunately I don’t see a real solution that wouldn’t require some kind of action on the part of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, which are even more dysfunctional than the U.S. House of Representatives. Our basic choices at the moment are either to give the children shelter or ship them back to a place where many more will die. If we choose the former, we need to spend some money and make an effort to treat these children humanely so they have a chance of growing up to be responsible and law-abiding people.

If it’s the latter, wingnuts stop the phony outrage about bodies in the Rio Grande. If we ship them home, we’re shipping some of them to their deaths; the only difference is that they’ll die out of reach of Fox News cameras.


Believe It, or Not

Obama Administration

A guy at Brookings looked for a correlation between anti-ACA ads, mostly paid for by the Koch boys, and found one. Yes, it appears the anti-ACA ads increased ACA enrollment. People in states heavily bombarded by Koch ads were more likely to learn about the insurance exchanges and sign up. They were also more likely to beieve that Congress would repeal Obamacare at any time, so they may have rushed to take advantage of the program before it disappeared.

A circuit judge just un-gerrymandered Florida. Heh.

In our famous laboratories of democracy called states, a number of Republican governors have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Laffer Curve is a fantasy, and cutting business and other taxes while also cutting government spending and social services does not grow the economy. In fact, it holds economic growth back. Not that actual proof will put any dents in right-wing anti-tax ideology.

On the less happy side, a Bundy-style militia headed by a Texas “open carry” fanatic is forming to patrol the border, and they say they will shoot anyone who tries to cross. Yes, we need a bunch of tough-talking he-men with maximum firepower to protect us from … children?

I say we keep the children and deport the he-men. Or, we could paint a rosy picture of their right to open carry in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, along with the high probability they would get to shoot somebody if they moved there. Maybe they would leave. See also Digby.

Finally — House GOP members are anti-tax tightwads who don’t like to pay dues, either.


The Always Wrong POTUS

Obama Administration

The President is being slammed on parts of the Left for child cruelty. Specifically, he has been criticized for seeking to speed up deportation of Central American children crossing the border from Mexico into the United States. Granted, there’s a lot there to criticize. More recently he has asked for money to deal with the crisis, and the money is for everything from health care to transportation costs.

However, he is being slammed on the Right for causing this humanitarian crisis, and even for encouraging it. And he’s being berated for “lawlessness” because he is enforcing the law.

There’s an All In With Chris Hayes segment that explains this pretty well. There are all kinds of laws, some on the books from long before the Obama Administration, that spell out how unaccompanied minors crossing the border illegally are to be “processed” by the system, and the Obama Administration is following those laws. The Right, which perpetually rages that the President has become a “dictator,” wants him to seize dictatorial powers to break the law.

The children are fleeing violence in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, and many are being sent here with “coyotes” by their families in the belief they would be allowed to stay. I emphasize this is a humanitarian crisis involving children. Over 57,000 migrant children have tried to cross the border this fiscal year.

And how does the Right want to respond? Deport them all, now, and bleep the law. No screening, no due process. We have no money even to take temporary care of these children, although Sen. Tom Coburn says we have plenty of money to fly them back home, on first class seats, no less. A number of communities have passed or are considering resolutions declaring that none of these children will be housed within city limits. (example)

However, having demonstrated they have no interest whatsoever in taking care of these children in any humane way, the wingnuts are slamming the President for not actually going to the border, as if that would make any difference. If he did go to the border they’d accuse him of using the crisis as a photo op.

Some of them are gleefully siting G.W. Bush’s failure to respond to Hurricane Katrina. But Bush’s failure was not that he didn’t go to New Orleans; it was that he was utterly oblivious to what was happening in New Orleans, and when finally did go there it was to congratulate his team, including the hapless Brownie, for their great work. And he continued to not respond to Katrina except for occasional photo op trips in which he got his picture taken wearing a toolbelt.

So no, this is not Obama’s Katrina. And Republicans had better hope Americans don’t get a close look at thousands of little children being sent back over the border, or worse, thousands of little bodies turning up in the desert.

See also Charles Blow.


Reform This

conservatism, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

The 2014 Texas Republican Party Platform really says this:

We strongly support a woman’s right to choose to devote her life to her family and children.

Ed Kilgore provided this quote, and I could not rest until I had verified this and seen the entire context for myself. And here it is –

Family Values – We support the affirmation of traditional Judeo-Christian family values and oppose the continued assault on those values. We strongly support a woman’s right to choose to devote her life to her family and children. We recognize her sacrifice in the face of the assault on the family. Additionally, we recognize the challenges of single parents and applaud their efforts in creating a stable and moral home.

This is the entire “family values” section. From here it goes on to saying human trafficking is bad.

If this were a game show, our choice would be Door Number One and, um, that’s it. Door Number One.

Seriously, this document is distilled and concentrated crazy. Hendrik Hertzberg and Charles Pierce, with all their rhetorical skills, still were challenged to describe how crazy this thing is, although Pierce has the stronger conclusion: “We allow ourselves only two major political parties. One of them is completely out of its fcking mind. This is a national problem.” Please read either Hertzberg or Pierce, though, so you can fully appreciate the truly epic nature of the crazy.

The other thing I’ve been reading about today are the “Reformicons,” described by Paul Waldman:

A small band of thoughtful conservatives has been saying, for some time, that if the Republican party is going to survive—and, more specifically, win a presidential election in the next decade or two—it has to change. It has to get serious about policy again, grapple with contemporary economic and social realities that simple appeals to free markets and small government don’t address, and find a way to attract voters from outside the demographic of old white people.

That sounds grand, but the actual members of this “small band,” according to Sam Tanenhaus, include people like Kate O’Beirne and Ramesh Ponnuru. And according to E.J. Dionne, the reform standards are being defined by the likes of Ross Douthat — called one of the “founding fathers” of reform — Michel Gerson, and David Frum. From what Dionne writes about it, this crew isn’t really coming up with groundbreaking new policies as much as repackaging the same crap they’ve been selling for years. Dionne writes,

At times, reform conservatism does seem more concerned with the box than its contents—more infatuated with the idea of new ideas than with new ideas themselves. But it’s also true that the Obama years produced such a large lurch to the right within conservatism that many Reformicons accept the need for readjustment and for something that looks like a governing agenda.

“Looks like” being the operative term here. This appears to me to be mostly an exercise in rhetoric rather than reform. For example –

Douthat offers a two-part test in the form of principles: First, that while our “growing social crisis” can’t be solved in Washington, “economic and social policy can make a difference nonetheless”; second, that “existing welfare-state institutions we’ve inherited from the New Deal and the Great Society … often make these tasks harder” by crowding out other forms of spending, hindering growth, and contributing to wage stagnation. So, says Douthat, “we don’t face a choice between streamlining the welfare state and making it more supportive of work and family; we should be doing both at once.”

What the hell does any of that mean? Is this anything other than arguing that we have to cut “entitlement” programs to please the several fairies of conservative dogma — the Fiscal Discipline Fairy, the Incentive to Get a Job Fairy, and probably Paul Krugman’s favorite, the Confidence Fairy?

It hardly matters, however, because however skillfully the reformicons dress up their weak tea to make it look like actual policy, the base will shoot it down. Actual government policy? The Texas platform calls for eliminating the jobs of all “unelected bureaucrats” in the federal government, which presumably means all federal public employees who are not in the military. This is not a crew interested in “reform.” They just want to destroy. Obviously, “reform” amounts to posturing for news media, which desperately wants to believe that Republicans can be reasonable, and for sucking in a few voters who are not old white people.


It seems almost pointless to mention this but there is simply no state Democratic party in any of the 50 states that is so clearly, obviously demented. This is the Republican Party. Yuval Levin and Ramesh Ponnuru are not. In fact, I think all those bold conservative thinkers of whom the New York Times thinks so much should bring their Big Ideas down to the next Texas state Republican convention and see how far they get. John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell, and especially obvious anagram Reince Priebus, who nominally presides over Bedlam, need to be asked every day which parts of the Texas Republican platform they support and which parts they don’t. They don’t get to use the crazies to get elected and then hide behind fake Washington politesse when the howls from the hinterlands get too loud.

I agree completely.


Some Things Can’t Be Ignored

Middle East

I confess I do tune out the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for long stretches of time. This is possibly because I generally don’t favor one side over the other, and partly because I don’t know if we’re getting straight information about any of it, and partly because I feel powerless to do anything about whatever it is. In this I suspect I’m in the same boat with a lot of other people.

Now we read that a 15-year-old U.S. citizen and ethnic Palestinian from Tampa was brutalized by Israeli defense forces and jailed while in Jerusalem to attend a cousin’s funeral. The U.S. State Department has sent Israel a sternly worded memo.

The cousin, also a teenager, had been beaten and burned alive, an autopsy revealed. Palestinians blame Israelis for the murder of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khedair, saying the murder was retaliation for the abduction and murder of three Israeli teens. According to a pro-Israeli website I stumbled into this morning, Khedair was killed by his family when they found out he was gay. Police have arrested several Israeli suspects, however, and I doubt Israeli police would do that if there were a credible possibility the perpetrators were Palestinian.

There are videos showing the American teen, Tariq Khdeir, being kicked and punched by the security forces as he lay passively on the ground, and then his unconscious body was hauled away to jail. They clearly did a number on his face. He has since been released on bail.

Tariq Khdeir may or may not have been taking part in a protest. He may or may not have been carrying a slingshot. (A slingshot? Seriously?) All we know is that he got the stuffing beat out of him, and the beating continued as he offered no resistance.

Israel has enjoyed a seemingly bottomless reservoir of good will from the United States, even though IMO the relationship between the two countries has benefited Israel a whole lot more than it has benefited the United States. What was done to Tariq Khdeir will be excused by the Israel First crowd on the American Right, especially since they would never consider someone named Tariq Khdeir to be a “real American.”

But I think there is a point at which that reservoir could dry up among the majority of Americans, and unless Israel has some pretty heavy-duty evidence against Tariq Khdeir it would be to Israel’s own best interests to drop charges and issue an apology.


The Libertarian Movement = Civilization Imploding?

Obama Administration

This article on a libertarian “festival” — I’m not sure what else to call it — in New Hampshire is more amusing than alarming. But there are some alarming things in it.

Once a year for the past 11 years, this campground in the northern part of the Granite State turns into a libertarian utopia. And this year, roughly 2,000 people — mostly white men — have paid between $45 and $100 to experience for one week what life would be like without the onerous mechanisms of laws, if the market ruled to the exclusion of all else. Want to wear a loincloth and sell moonshine, shop at an unregulated market that accepts Bitcoin and silver, or listen to a seminar called “How the Collapse of the State is Inevitable”? Then this is the place for you….

… The ideological motivations, which Free Staters discuss over homemade mead and beers, are relatively easy to understand. The U.S. government suffers from low approval ratings, we have been fighting wars for years without a satisfying result in sight, and privacy is slipping away. Why not just dissolve it all — or most of it— and live as individuals? In other words, live like the porcupine: Let your lifestyle not encroach on others, but if someone comes at you, don’t hesitate to protect yourself with quills. Or your AR-15.

It strikes me that only people who take the comforts and blessings of civilization utterly for granted would think this way. It’s not surprising this crew is mostly white. One suspects if they ever got their wish to live like this all the time, most of them wouldn’t last a year. Perhaps literally.

Although there were some women present, this explains why the group is mostly male:

A tractor rumbles by, spilling brown sludge out of a bucket.

“It’s okay, it’s Agora Valley, it should be covered in sewage,” says an onlooker eating breakfast across from an outdoor tattooing station. “It’s unregulated and we have no infrastructure.”

It had been raining, so the sludge mixed well into the muddy path; the smell blended with the heady fumes of armpits, pot, and brewing beer.

I’m a resourceful person and can manage without many things, but I require plumbing. And soap. This is not negotiable. Seriously, I could see 19th century scourges like cholera and typhoid making a comeback if these guys were in charge.

Human communities have functioned with gender-based divisions of labor from the beginning of recorded history. Not all societies have divided labor exactly the same way, but usually it has been men who built the infrastructure and made the regulations. In most of human history idealized views of manhood have been associated with building and creating civilization at least as much as with war.

I assume many of the guys in New Hampshire were influenced by Ayn Rand. Weirdly, while Rand appeared to appreciate building and creating (e.g., The Fountainhead), she didn’t appear to appreciate civilization or notice that creativity and building have no value or purpose outside of civilization.

And now a collection of white guys in New Hampshire would happily let civilization rot rather than be saddled with the obligation to take care of it, and they aren’t ashamed to say so. I suspect their great-grandfathers would be mortified.

Speaking of civilization rotting, Paul Krugman notes that the “we won’t build that” syndrome is not limited to libertarians.

The federal highway trust fund, which pays for a large part of American road construction and maintenance, is almost exhausted. Unless Congress agrees to top up the fund somehow, road work all across the country will have to be scaled back just a few weeks from now. If this were to happen, it would quickly cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs, which might derail the employment recovery that finally seems to be gaining steam. And it would also reduce long-run economic potential. …

…What’s useful about the looming highway crisis is that it illustrates just how self-destructive that political choice has become. It’s one thing to block green investment, or high-speed rail, or even school construction. I’m for such things, but many on the right aren’t. But everyone from progressive think tanks to the United States Chamber of Commerce thinks we need good roads. Yet the combination of anti-tax ideology and deficit hysteria (itself mostly whipped up in an attempt to bully President Obama into spending cuts) means that we’re letting our highways, and our future, erode away.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gives the quality of U.S. public infrastructure a D+. This isn’t about just roads. It’s waste treatment; it’s drinking water; it’s the electrical grid and ports and air traffic and levees. And it’s roads, bridges and tunnels. We’ve been letting it all rot for years because “fiscal conservatism” doesn’t want to spend money because fiscal conservatives don’t want to raise taxes. They’re just as short-sighted and selfish as the crew in New Hampshire, although they are still using plumbing.

And someday, when they turn the designer faucets in their McMansions and brown sludge comes out, no doubt they will blame liberals.

There’s a Taoist idea that everything carries within it the seeds of its own demise. Many civilizations have died because they outgrew their food supply or because population density encouraged infectious disease (like cholera and typhoid). We’ve learned how to get around those limitations now, so there’s no reason to assume that civilization, and quality of life, are not infinitely improvable. But we may be bumping into the ultimate limits on what humankind can achieve — selfishness and stupidity.

A side note: The word husband comes from an Old Norse word that meant “male householder.” It shares an ancestral root word with house, in fact. In verb form, that word referred to managing or stewardship, a meaning retained in husbandry. For the record, wife also has Old Norse/Germanic roots but originally just meant “woman.”

Until relatively recently, western culture generally valued the male role of husband. To be a husband was an honorable thing; something to aspire to. At some point in the 20th century that changed. In popular culture now the word husband has a faint connotation of drudgery, or of being chained to onerous obligations.

The rise of the He-Man Woman Hater subculture, the libertarian Randbot subculture, and “movement conservatism” all do seem to be interrelated, largely driven by men, and tied to an erosion of the value of building and stewardship that used to be connected to cultural definitions of “manhood.” Not that I have any idea how to turn that around; I’m just saying there’s a common thread there somewhere.


Watch All the Nasty Beasties Crawl Out From Under the Rocks

Wingnuts Being Wingnuts, Women's Issues

Although you’d think the Right couldn’t do anything to surprise me any more, I have been unsettled by the visceral disgust of female sexuality that’s spewed forth from the Right in the past few days. In tweets, on blogs, in most of the usual quarters, the monster being revealed is something terrible to behold.

But let us not forget this is an old beast that’s been with us all along. It’s just that recent events have coaxed the creature into the light of day.

That right-wing extremists see women as a substandard Other is a given; it is, in fact, a universal characteristic of reactionary politics and religions, in all their many forms. But it’s been fifty years since The Pill became available, and wingnuts still can’t handle the thought of women as sexual free agents. Male sexuality is fine with them, of course. I don’t see objections on the Right to Viagra, or the idea of health insurance paying for Viagra, even though its primary application is to allow some men to have more sex. But The Pill, which has a variety of medical applications beside contraception, is Evil and Immoral because it allows women to have “consequence-free sex,” a condition not placed upon Viagra-enhanced men. And Erick Son of Erick is not the only troglodyte spouting that line.

Even though religion is the most common excuse given for this sick view of women, there is nothing in the Bible that forbids women from using birth control. I don’t know enough about the Q’ran to comment on that, but it appears opinions against birth control are coming only from the most conservative parts of Islam.

I’ve never heard of objections to birth control coming from Buddhism or any other Asian religion, even though Asian cultures often are as patriarchal as cultures get. However, these cultures generally are less hung up about enjoying sex.

Some religious traditions, such as Orthodox Judaism (although not Conservative or Reformed), point to the “be fruitful and multiply” line from Genesis to declare that God forbids birth control. But notice that nobody’s running around demanding restrictions on the sale of condoms. This is because of deeply entrenched sociocultural values, not religion. Those values say “consequence-free sex” is a birthright for men. It’s only when women are given some power over their own sexuality and reproduction that alarm bells go off, and the sickos grab frantically for anything they can grab to support their bigotries. And some grotesque misapplication of religious dogma is about all they’ve got, although I have seen some other even more bizarre and fact-free appeals to “science” and “nature.”

If you’ve read my book (Rethinking Religion: Finding a Place for Religion in a Modern, Tolerant, Progressive, Peaceful and Science-affirming World), or if you’ve read up on current research in sociology, you know that our moral views are mostly dictated by our emotions, and the “moral judgments” we create in our rational minds are all post hoc. See, for example, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt (Pantheon Books, 2012).

Why is this craziness apparently coming from right-wing Abrahamic religion? This is from my book –

… Haidt says that’s basically what we’re all doing — allowing our rudimentary emotions to dictate what we think. And the rudimentary emotions come from our cultural programming and many other influences, such as the groups we hang out with. Researchers have found they also can influence people’s responses to moral questions by exposing them to foul odors, giving them something pleasant or unpleasant to drink, or even keeping a hand sanitizer within view. Reason actually has little to do with it, however much we might want to think otherwise.

When you understand that much of “morality” is about rudimentary emotions and biases, you might also understand why conservative and dogmatic religions of all persuasion tend to get hung up on sex and on keeping women under control, often going way outside the teachings of revered founders as they do this.

For example — going by the Gospels, Jesus said very little about sex and nothing at all about homosexuality, abortion, or birth control. And we know that there was homosexual sex, abortion, and attempts at birth control going on in his time, and he must have been aware of these things. But it appears he didn’t bother to address them.

Instead, he went on and on about loving God and everybody else, including your enemies. He was also big on feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, and visiting prisoners. The episode with the money changers in the Temple suggests he was not keen on people trying to make themselves wealthy on other peoples’ piety. For a man of his time and culture he was extraordinarily courteous to women, sometimes speaking to them in public (which was a tad scandalous, I’m told) and telling Martha that Mary didn’t have to go to the kitchen to make coffee and sandwiches if she’d rather listen to his sermon.

Flash forward to today’s right-wing Christianity. See the difference? Do I really have to point it out to you?

The obsession with sex and repressing women and their tempting ways is one of the most common features of conservative, dogmatic religion, whether we’re talking about Christianity or Islam or any other major spiritual tradition. Currently factions within Islam are going to unprecedented and grotesque extremes to subdue women. But I say there are factions within many other faith traditions that differ from the Taliban only in degree, not in kind.

And this tells me that the men in charge of things are channeling their own anxieties about sex and women and projecting them into their scriptures. In doing so, they sometimes wander quite a distance from what their scriptures actually say, revealing how pathologically deep those anxieties are.

Ultimately, all this flap about birth control has nothing to do with genuine religious devotion. It’s coming from sick, neurotic weenie-men (and some women, e.g. Ingraham and Coulter, who notably are unmarried and childless, although Ingraham has adopted children) who are terrified of female sexuality and can’t deal with the world unless women are kept under control. They are using the authority of religion — with assistance from conservative men in the courts — to impose their bigotries and emotional pathologies on the rest of us.

So let us be clear that the Great Divide in the birth control issue is not between the secular and the religious; it’s been the emotionally healthy and the deranged.

See also:

Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control — And Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About it 100 Years From Now

Rape Victims At Christian College Told To Repent For Their Sins

Clergy Pass Out Condoms at Hobby Lobby in Protest

Biblical birth control: The surprisingly contraception-friendly Old Testament


The Court Ladies Are Pissed

Supreme Court, Women's Issues

Adam Liptak at the NY Times:

In a decision that drew an unusually fierce dissent from the three female justices, the Supreme Court sided Thursday with religiously affiliated nonprofit groups in a clash between religious freedom and women’s rights.

The decision temporarily exempts a Christian college from part of the regulations that provide contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The court’s order was brief, provisional and unsigned, but it drew a furious reaction from the three female members, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. The order, Justice Sotomayor wrote, was at odds with the 5-to-4 decision on Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, which involved for-profit corporations.

“Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “Not so today.”

The court’s action, she added, even “undermines confidence in this institution.”

Preach it, Sister Justice Sonia! See SCOTUSblog for more detailed explanation. Sister Justice Sonia wrote a 15-page dissent that probably is still smoking. See also Corporations race into Ginsburg’s ‘minefield’ to claim post-Hobby Lobby religious exemptions.

By Their Tweets Ye Shall Know Them. People who are celebrating the Hobby Lobby and subsequent decisions do seem to have one thing in common, which is huge disgust at female sexuality. No surprise.

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